Tuesday, December 16, 2008

renters & losers

We like our apartment. I'll start with that. We aren't far from school or groceries. Cabs can find our place. I feel comfortable walking around the neighborhood - winding streets, big houses hiding behind big walls, cows grazing in open fields. We have a pool we never use but could, should we be so inclined. Hummingbirds fly into our house and cockroaches usually stay out.

But here are some of the less (or more) amusing parts of life at Casa 09 or How to be a Landlord to Americans Who Just Don't Understand:

Insist that the relic of a stove is fine, despite the range rust or the terrific numbing shock sent up your renter's arm anytime she flips an egg. Two renters ago, the woman cooked all the time. Haggle with the school about who should provide a new appliance. Worry about the pregnant renter eating bowls of cereal or what can be prepared in a microwave. Finally buy a new stove. Insist it can be plugged into the wall, nevermind the wildly uneven voltage required and supplied. Be surprised that cooking an egg now blows the breaker.

When the rainy season begins express rising concern over the peeling paint and wet plaster by the renters' front door. Insist this has never happened before. Insist that the roof is fine. If only we didn't get so much rain. It is too much. Send your gardener to remove the paint and the plaster. Do this a few times until the wall scar starts to look less like a seahorse and more like South America. Send him again to plaster the crack. Lament that nothing will ever dry because of all this rain.
Provide a lovely view. Forget to tell the renters that by saying, "Our daughter is building a house" you meant that your daughter is building seven houses on postage stamp lots only thirty yards from the renters' front door. That lovely green lot with orange trees you saw? Oh, white tarp is the rage now. It's better, you see?
Tell them what they want to hear: Private security will be here next week. Say it six weeks running. This is important to them because of the construction site. A white tarp isn't good enough for them. When the renter takes out the garbage one night and reports seeing a strange man on the property, suggest he saw a ghost. Insist the property is secure. In the next breath, admit that your nephew is as concerned as the renters about the security. Put your faith in bamboo and barbed wire.

Anyway, security wouldn't be such an issue if those renters wouldn't leave the front gate open all the time. Neighborhood security is always calling to let you know the gate is open. You begin to suspect the renters are just pushing buttons for fun. Come close to suggesting this. When the renters seem to be keeping tally and tattling anytime they notice the gate is open, ignore their triumphant I told you so and insist the renter must have pressed the button accidentally. They should be more careful.

Deliver a panic button. Tell them not to press it unless it's actually an emergency. Undertones suggest that you know just how much these renters enjoy pushing buttons. Know that the renter is tempted to press that button every time she walks by, just to see if it opens the front gate.

For the record and the worriers: Carmen and Pablo really are wonderful. They are kind and helpful and Justin and I (and Claire) enjoy their company. Our property is guarded by a private security firm that does routine night watches to check the neighborhood. Neighbors also keep a look out for anything odd. I think that a private security guard has finally moved onto the construction site and I will ask Carmen if I can meet him. Though my stove took five weeks to arrive, I love it love it love it. Last year my oven either barely breathed upon a batch of cookies or burned them to hockey pucks. Happy medium was found only if I took the time to speak softly to the stove, giving it pats of encouragement. And we do have a panic button and, um, I am tempted to see if it opens the front gate. Finally, while we have a white tarp to stare at, we also have tree growing in our driveway. We like this tree a lot.

No comments: